If someone asks you to rattle off the names of Shakespeare’s plays you can definitely name a couple – Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, etc… But does Cymbeline come to mind? This is one of his lesser-known productions, but it still has as much drama as any of the others.
The plot focuses around King Cymbeline and his daughter Princess Imogen. Imogen has married a commoner, Posthumus Leonatus, but her father wanted her to marry his stepson Cloten born to his newer, younger wife, The Queen. From there a number of events unravel such as the threat of war, murder and rape – all because of a little marriage.
Director Sean O’Riordan says what he loves about the play is the dramatic era it is set in.
“Britain in AD 50 is a savage place of wilderness, plots and intrigue, heroes and villains and wild characters living in the savage forests of Wales,” he said.
“It is a story full of funny lines and lots of action containing so many characters that the audience will recognise from the rest of the Shakespeare world.”
O’Riordan’s version is set apart apart from other reenactments by the fact that he has cast women to play male roles.
“I’ve cast two women in the roles of the two princes with no apologies for the fact that they are women,” he explained.
“If I had cast strictly to the gender of the cast list of the play there would only be two women. I think it is certainly time for us to cast against gender in Shakespeare and it has added another level of interest and opportunity in rehearsals.”
Oct 5–15; Wed-Sat 8pm, Sun 5pm. The Depot Theatre, 142 Addison Road, Marrickville. $22-$32. Tickets & info: www.thedepottheatre.com
BY ATHINA MALLIS